December 14: In San Diego, seventeen Clovis North students participated in the California Orchestra Directors Association All State Concert. Quite an anticipated ordeal for many in the orchestra community.
“A lot of parents are involved and the hall was completely packed with parents and supporters,” says Michael Chang, Orchestra Director for Clovis North High School.
There in support of those hand selected students, Chang realized just before the start of the event that one of his students, Sonia Rao was selected to be first chair violinist.
Making her the Concertmaster, Sonia held all the pressure of leading the greatest musicians across California. But this was no issue in her Orchestra Director’s mind.
“Sonia just performed beautifully which is as per usual. She’s just that type of player. Once she sets her mind to it, there’s no stopping Sonia.”
Chang mentioned that he has soloed with Rao and holds her in the highest of regards, calling her his “..equal, musically, intellectually and in interpretation and expression.”
As for the other sixteen students that also played, Chang held enough pride over for them as well, pronouncing that their experience put them in the top rankings of California.
“I was so proud of all of our seventeen students representing our school, holding themselves in the highest esteem with the best musicians in the state of California.”
The process of even being accepted to play at the concert is something that Chang remembers greatly and that means a lot to him and his orchestra. “Going through these processes, that means a lot to me too. Getting to spend time with them [the students], working with them, giving them the hours and hours of my time, cultivating them. To see them achieve at the final stage, that’s like the biggest reward for me.”
Sonia Rao herself was thrilled to be selected as first chair, but Chang believes that she can sometimes play down these huge accomplishments.
“Sonia is usually pretty nonchalant about these things, she did say it was a ‘Very cool experience’, and I think this is something she will treasure for her whole life…She’s just really down to earth, and I’m sure she’s gonna try to nail the next one.”
Speaking of “the next one”, the next Clovis North Orchestra Concert will take place at the Shaghoian Concert Hall at the Clovis North Campus on December 21st. Starting at 7 PM, the orchestra and Sonia Rao can be heard in all of their musical excellence.
Another large event closely related to the Directors Association will take place in Fresno in mid-February according to Director Michael Chang.
His hopes include that Sonia and other musicians will also try out and participate in this concert as many already have. “Many of our students have applied for and auditioned for that program as well.”